Casa de la Luz Volunteer Spotlight: Carl Manz

| By Jodi Horton

Carl Manz began volunteering with Casa de la Luz almost a year ago, but in his mind, he’s been training for this opportunity for the last 25 or 30 years. As a practicing Buddhist with years of meditation training, Carl said he “walked in the door (of Casa) and felt at home.”

Carl volunteers his time two days a week at the Inpatient Unit and also companions home hospice patients. He decided to become a hospice volunteer after experiencing the support of hospice care during his time as his parents’ caregiver.

Though he had doubts initially about whether he could companion dying hospice patients, a conversation with a Tohono O’odham medicine man helped him realize he had what he needed to be a hospice volunteer. As Carl shared his doubts with the medicine man and remembered his younger brother’s suicide, the medicine man told him that’s where he needed to meet people, “the place in your heart where your grief resides.”

He has taken the medicine man’s lesson to heart as he companions patients and tries to create a space “where they can do the work they need to do,” he said. “I think of myself as kind of a medicine man. I try to bring fearlessness, empathy and compassion.”

As he brings his presence to patients, he is rewarded, too. “This practice energizes me. I think it makes me more compassionate and loving in my everyday life,” said Carl. “I want to be a person who’s compassionate to everyone in every circumstance, if possible.”

Outside of his volunteer work, Carl enjoys making and playing Native American flutes. He was born in Chicago and raised in Ohio, and packed parachutes for the Navy for four years. He moved to Texas for college and focused his energy into peace activism. He also built a career in the restaurant industry, starting as a dishwasher and working his way up to chef and owning a restaurant. He began his Buddhist meditation practice 30 years ago, which he said has formed the core of his life. Carl met his wife at a Buddhist retreat, and the two have been together for what Carl refers to as “the best 26 years” of his life. The couple moved to Tucson to retire.

Carl’s volunteer work with Casa has just barely started if he has anything to say about it. He said he has “gratitude” for Casa de la Luz, and he hopes he can become an even better volunteer through additional training. “What matters is being present and loving. If I can go to my death open and loving, I’d consider that a success.”

Back to Articles